A brain autopsy is the only way to confirm the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Information from the autopsy is helpful to researchers working to better understand Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia and may help find a cure.
Yes. It is also very important to study the brains of normal, healthy people after death.
As surprising as it seems, we still do not know exactly how the brains of healthy persons change as they age. Scientists need to study normal brains to find out which changes in the brain are caused by disease and which are due to aging. It is especially valuable to study brain tissue from normal older persons who have had their memory tested as they age.
Alzheimer’s disease can run in families. Knowing whether you truly had the disease allows your surviving family members to seek help early and plan for their future. It is a gift to them.
If you wish to donate, it is important for your family members to know your wishes and be a part of the decision-making process.
All participants receive yearly tests of thinking and memory and a medical examination by a physician.
Your family must notify us of your death quickly (within two hours). Your body is then taken to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital where the brain is removed by the Alzheimer’s Disease Center (ADC) pathologist and staff.
The autopsy is provided at no charge to the families of study participants.
Kentucky law lets a person give consent for autopsy while they are alive and authorizes others to do so after death or if a person becomes unable to make decisions because of dementia.
Your family will receive a written report on the autopsy. This letter gives the diagnosis, summarizes other findings, and includes a number to call if there are questions.
Most definitely, yes. The removal of the brain, under the supervision of a pathologist, does not leave any visible marks.
Call the UK ADC Autopsy staff at (859) 323-6040 for more information about participation.
At the time of death, families should call (859) 229-5922 for direct contact 24 hrs a day. In the unlikely event you are unable to reach the doctor-on-call through this number, please call the hospital operator at (859) 323-5000 and ask for the Sanders-Brown or Alzheimer’s Disease Center “Physician on call.”